The first ever conference in England to consider Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) is being held in Durham on 27-28 February.
Global interest in Edwards is surging. There’s never been so much research into and so much published about this preacher/theologian/revivalist, who has been called ‘America’s Augustine’.
Like Augustine, Edwards has a global reach. Back in 1976, Martyn Lloyd-Jones famously likened the Puritans to the Alps, Luther and Calvin to the Himalayas and Jonathan Edwards to Everest.
Much of the UK renaissance in Edwards can be traced to the ministry of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Some UK Christians know that Edwards, along with George Whitefield, was involved in the mid-eighteenth-century Great Awakening.
Others may know that Edwards told us about the missionary David Brainerd and thereby influenced the subsequent flood of worldwide missionary endeavour. Perhaps some know that he preached a sermon known as Sinners in the hands of an angry God. But that is as far as most people’s knowledge goes.
At this conference, worldwide experts on Edwards will speak, including Doug Sweeney (professor of church history and the history of Christian thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Illinois) and Gerald McDermott (Jordan-Trexler professor of religion, Roanoke College, Virginia) — prolific Edwards writers and editors of the Yale Edition of Edwards’ works.
The conference will focus sharply on Edwards’ relevance for today’s church. We will not be duplicating the many academic conferences held around the world. How does Edwards inspire our mission today? Does he help restore preaching as God’s unique moment of unmistakable impression?
As more and more fake ‘spiritualities’ compete for our attention, Edwards leaves us in no doubt what are the ‘distinguishing marks of a work of the Spirit of God’.
Light and heat are both essential, as Edwards once said — showing us that, in today’s church, we must not lose our trust that the Holy Spirit will bring home the light of the gospel.
Edwards also shows us how to engage with an emerging culture (in his day, the so-called Enlightenment), while still proclaiming the never-changing Christ. If ever there was a thinker who can help us in our post-everything world, it is Jonathan Edwards. To find out more, visit: